Without pain there is no gain

Normal, Weekender

ONE would say prison is a sinister place to live due to high razor wired-fence and surrounding brick walls.
Others would say prison is a place where bad people are put so they can suffer because they are criminals convicted of crimes and deserved to die there.
Some say prison is a place where continuous harassments, violence and intimidation are prevalent.
But to me, I would say I’m thankful that I was sent to prison.
It is prison that shaped and molded my character and now I am really a new person, though the experiences I had encountered in prison were painful.
I appeal to all the inmates at Bomana and other prisons around the country, not to return to past doings but dedicate your lives to God and you will see change in your ways, dreams and visions.
These were the words of a former Bomana prison inmate, Barry Pale, who served seven years in the nation’s biggest and notorious prison from 2002 to 2009.
He was released last month with 50 other inmates from Bomana having completed their jail-terms.
Here he described his ordeal as “irregular and frame up” statements that led to his conviction.
“At the time, I was doing my third year economics at the University of Papua New Guinea.
“I was given financial support by my relatives and friends for bus fare and other daily needs. But I didn’t use the funds purposefully.
“I was hoping that one day after completing my school I would repay them back. Unfortunately, this was not the case to recount as I was thrown into jail and all their efforts were wasted,” Barry regrets.
The most difficult time he experienced in prison was when he and other inmates were admitted to the Port Moresby General Hospital for tuberculosis. (TB)
Barry, now reformed, said he was a stubborn and proud person before he was convicted and sent to prison.
“I used to shout at my mother when she gathers the family to worship during weekdays. I don’t even attend church service on Saturdays. Sometimes I would tell my mother to shorten the sermon or prayer.”
“After the committal hearing in April 22, I was ordered with some fresh remandees on that same day to be taken to Bomana.
“When I heard Bomana being mentioned, I was really scared as I’ve heard many bad stories about it.
“Nevertheless, there are certain situations that inflicts anxiety to prisoners, when they hear tragic news about family members and loved ones, when lying on sick-beds or when they are hurt by prison officers or inmates themselves.
“However, during the seven years prison term that I served, I encountered many difficulties. To relief my stress, I had to mingle with other prisoners from different walks of life. Each of us experienced a fair share of trials and tribulation.
Barry, said he had become a new person when he accepted Christ in his life.
“I have no ill feelings towards those who laid false charges against me.
“The task of taming a man is not as easy as taming an animal,” Barry claims.
Barry is thankful to the Government and the Correctional Services department for allowing the Gospel to be preached in prisons which had helped a lot in reforming prisoners’ spiritual and moral values.
There is a cross section of prisoners living in prison today.
“A robber would say I’ll get out of prison after serving my term, do last robbery then change my life, the innocent would say I’ll get out of prison after serving my term, then take revenge with the complainant because I was falsely accused.
“I appeal to my brothers who are faced with these kinds of thoughts to pray to our heavenly father so he can change our ways, dreams and visions.
“The purpose of being in prison is to correct ourselves of our past mistakes so that when we get out of prison, we can become better persons.
“We must take heed that we invite defeat when we remember what we should forget.  Imprisonment is not the only avenue to frustrations or bewilderment, but there are many other obstacles that cause people frustrations, sufferings and defeats.
“We must take into account that not all prisoners are law breakers or perpetrators of crimes.
“Some were arrested and put into prisons for jealousy, others may be for false accusations, and some may be due to improper identification while others may be due to divine intervention.
He said while in prison, he recalled his mother’s advice that “it is through suffering that God teaches you a lesson. You could not learn in any other way.”
And indeed, her advice is a living testimony that Barry will relay to his children in the years to come.       
Barry thanked the tireless and dedicated staff of Bomana correctional service for spiritual reformation and physical rehabilitation programs like sports which had helped a lot in relieving stresses and pressures.
“And finally to my caring mother who visits me regularly on Sundays throughout my seven years in prison.
It is God’s transformation power that will re-integrate me and my prison brothers once again into the society where we were once rejected.”